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A moment 32 years in the making: My favorite night ever as a Detroit Lions fan

Perspective from the most raucous atmosphere in the history of Ford Field.

NFL: NFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Rams at Detroit Lions Lon Horwedel-USA TODAY Sports

For so long, I had wondered how I would feel the day they actually did it. The day that our beloved Detroit Lions slayed some of the demons that have haunted this franchise and their fan base for decades.

A few weeks ago, the Lions clinched the NFC North against the Minnesota Vikings, but since the game was on the road, the majority of Lions fans didn’t get a first-hand chance to savor the celebration that ensued. However, with the division crown came a home playoff game, and with that opportunity—my mind began to wonder.

What would the atmosphere be like when the Lions hosted their first playoff game played in Detroit since 1957? It didn’t take long for me to get that question answered:

Absolutely electric.

From the moment we entered the building, the energy was palpable. With it being so packed, we elected to head to our seats over an hour ahead of kickoff. We weren’t alone, as thousands of other Lions fans did the same. The result was an atmosphere that teetered on the brink of mayhem.

“That is arguably the best environment I’ve ever been in,” Lions’ coach Dan Campbell said. “That was absolutely electric, and I think what’s crazy is I was coming down for pre-game warmup and you could just feel it. It was humming.”

And it stayed that way for the entire game. Four hours of non-stop intensity.

The fans heard the call from Lions’ linebacker Alex Anzalone loud and clear. When the Los Angeles Rams were on offense, the crowd surged constantly—intensifying whenever the Rams attempted to communicate.

When the Lions were on offense, the crowd would revert to a controlled murmur, exploding when the Lions’ offense moved the ball for a first down or big play. When the Rams got the ball back, the noise level would crank back up. And the noise would teeter-totter back and forth like that all game.

The last eight minutes of the game felt like a lifetime. But when the Lions got the ball back with just over four minutes to play, several members of my friend group began to do the math.

Two first-downs.

That’s all it would take to put the game away. And Detroit was on offense, just the way the Lions like it. David Montgomery broke a tackle and converted the initial first down. And when Jared Goff connected with All-Pro wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown for the final first down, we all knew it was over.

I saw several grown adults sobbing, tears streaming down their faces. Some screamed hysterically with a look of joy and disbelief on their faces. Friends who had grown to know each other through years of sitting together basked in feelings of joy, relief, and hope. Families who had spent generations at both the Pontiac Silverdome and Ford Field got to take it all in.

A full ten minutes after the Lions ended the game in a victory formation, the stands were still packed.

To be honest, it’s all still sinking in. And I think it will be that way for the next couple of days as well. And you know what? That’s perfectly okay.

It doesn’t matter if you were among the 65,000 at Ford Field, watching from home, listening to the radio, or however you were following along—I hope you felt the energy. It was a special night for a special city, and with coach Dan Campbell and general manager Brad Holmes at the helm, there will surely be more nights like Sunday in the future.

So savor this one. You’ve earned it Lions fans. And buckle up because we get to do it all again this week.

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